When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me-it still sometimes happens-and ask me if Carl changed at the end and converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don't ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief and precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting. Every single moment that we were alive and we were together was miraculous-not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance. . . . That pure chance could be so generous and so kind. . . . That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space and the immensity of time. . . . That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me and it’s much more meaningful. . . . The way he treated me and the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other and our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don't think I'll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos and that was wonderful.
Ann Druyan
When animals make a stupid mistake, you laugh at them. A cat misjudges a leap. A dog looks overly quizzical about a simple object. These are funny things. But when a person doesn’t understand something, if they miscalculate and hit the brakes too late, blame is assigned. They are stupid. They are wrong. Teachers and cops are there to sort it out, with a trail of paperwork to illustrate the stupidity. The faults. The evidence and incidents of these things. We have entire systems in place to help decide who is what. Sometimes the systems don’t work. Families spend their weekend afternoons at animal shelters, even when they’re not looking for a pet. They come to see the unwanted and unloved. The cats and dogs who don’t understand why they are these things. They are petted and combed, walked and fed, cooed over and kissed. Then they go back in their cages and sometimes tears are shed. Fuzzy faces peering through bars can be unbearable for many. Change the face to a human one and the reaction changes. The reason why is because people should know better. But our logic is skewed in this respect. A dog that bites is a dead dog. First day at the shelter and I already saw one put to sleep, which in itself is a misleading phrase. Sleep implies that you have the option of waking up. Once their bodies pass unconsciousness to something deeper where systems start to fail, they revolt a little bit, put up a fight on a molecular level. They kick. They cry. They don’t want to go. And this happens because their jaws closed over a human hand, ever so briefly. Maybe even just the once. But people, they get chances. They get the benefit of the doubt. Even though they have the higher logic functioning and they knew when they did it THEY KNEW it was a bad thing.
Mindy McGinnis